Good storytelling begins and ends (especially begins) with good communication. And it’s really pretty simple: start with a strong lead sentence that “tells them what you’re gonna tell them.” You know, the one your English and/or journalism teacher insisted on. There’s a reason for it.
When you start with a strong lead sentence that tells the audience what your story is about, they will be with you from the beginning and, therefore, more easily understand your supporting facts, figures and details. They will get it, and they like that.
It seems the strong lead is becoming a lost art, discarded with the other practical elements of good communication like verbs (that’s a blog for another day). In an effort to be more creative, backing into a story seems to have become the norm. Building suspense may work for a thriller movie, but today’s news audience doesn’t have the patience for it. Especially when they have their smartphone in hand and can quickly find a source that will cut to the chase.
Every story – news, weather, sports and yes, even the heart-warming, feel-good ones – will benefit from a strong lead. It doesn’t mean your stories have to be boring. On the contrary, I would say they will be more engaging. I’m not talking about a stodgy headline, but a conversational, “here’s the deal” kind of a lead.
There’s another huge benefit to a strong lead: it will help with more natural delivery. When I work with talent in my coaching sessions, this is often something we work on together. So, let’s review. Starting your story with a strong lead sentence is good communication (that is the goal after all). It’s helpful for the audience and a positive for delivery too. I can’t think of a single reason why it shouldn’t make a comeback.